Robbing Peter to Pay Paul

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Transfer windows have become commonplace in my native England in recent years, with a flurry of activity in the days and hours before the window closes.  So, you can imagine my intrigue as the MLS transfer window opened.  How would teams use it? How many players would move? Would there be more European players making the move across the Atlantic? Most importantly, how wold the transfer window work with teams trading players for draft picks?  I wasn’t prepared for what happened next!!

My hometown side, Toronto FC, last week acquired Eric Hassli from the Vancouver Whitecaps… are you sat down… in exchange for a first round pick in the 2014 draft.  2014… almost two years from now!  Not only that, they’ve given up an international roster spot through December 2013.  What the…?!?!  If you’re not familiar with Toronto FC’s plight, they sacked manager Aron Winter earlier in the season, have the worst record in the league and, apparently are already focusing on the 2013 season.  Yet, they have given up a draft pick for the 2014 season in exchange for a Designated Player.  If anything I’ve seen in major league soccer could be described as madness, this has to be it… and I’ve seen quite a few things that have left me open-mouthed over the past two seasons.

I’m still trying to work out why Paul Mariner and his staff decided to take such a gamble with the future success of the club.  I’ve read about Hassli’s record and it’s… well, let’s just say it’s OK, but nothing special.  He did well at FC Zurich, but during his time at Vancouver he’s scored 1 goal every four matches on average.  Even if he’d been a player of the calibre of Beckham or Henry it’d still not be worth trading a draft pick two years in the future – anything can, and probably will, happen in that time and draft picks give you the option to strengthen a side in preparation for the upcoming season.

I think the draft system is a good way to strengthen the league and enable teams to ring in new talent.  Any team that is prepared to jeopardize that is, frankly, crazy!

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